Utopian Society Thinkers Tommaso Campanella Part 1

About the famous utopian thinker Tommaso Campanella and history of his planned utopia the City of the Sun.




"I am the bell that announces the new dawn," said Tommaso Campanella (whose last name means "bell" in Italian). His new dawn never came. His life was a horror story.

A contemporary of Francis Bacon, Campanella was born of illiterate parents in Calabria. At 15 he entered a Dominican monastery, the only place where it was possible for a poor youth to get an education. There he became interested in the occult and wrote his first philosophical treatise.

Jail was his home for more than 27 years of his life. First imprisoned at the age of 23 on charges of heresy and conspiracy against Spanish rule, he was soon released, then locked up again. When he came out for the second time in 1595, he walked into a climate of unrest and omens-earthquakes and comets-which were harbingers of disaster to believers in the occult. In a convent at Stilo, he and some political exiles and friars decided that the time for revolution was at hand. All were arrested and taken by boat to Naples, where, in full view of the people watching on land, some of the revolutionaries were quartered. Campanella was returned to jail, where he set fire to his cell, either because he was insane or because he was pretending to be insane to avoid execution. He was put in chains in a dungeon and once was tortured for 40 hours at a stretch.

While he was in jail in 1602, he wrote La Citta del Sole (The City of the Sun), a book describing his utopia.

Finally released for good in 1634, Campanella went to France, where the king and Cardinal Richelieu shielded him from further persecution. He died at 71 in a Dominican convent in Paris.

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